sour, adjective

Dutch, English, South African EnglishShow more Translation of Dutch zuur. The dialectal use in general English emphasizes palatability; in South African English the word refers to nutritional value: animals will eat sour grass, but become thin or ill.
1. ?obsolete. a. Of vegetation: coarse and lacking in nutritional value, especially during winter. b. Of land: bearing such vegetation. Cf. sweet.
1786 G. Forster tr. of A. Sparrman’s Voy. to Cape of G.H. II. 77The district round about, was of the kind called Sour.
1821 S. Afr. Jrnl (1824) I. 18The herbage though abundant was almost universally of the description called sour; but varying very much in quality and appearance in different soils and situations.
1835 J.W.D. Moodie Ten Yrs in S. Afr. II. 37The pasturage along the banks of the Kromme river is everywhere of that coarse description which is distinguished by the term ‘sour’ by the colonists.
1837 N. Polson Subaltern’s Sick Leave 115In some parts the grass is of a sour kind on which cattle bred in sweet pastures do not thrive, but beasts bred on it fatten and do well.
1860 W. Shaw Story of my Mission 403The best grazing districts..are at a distance from the sea: the grass near the coast, being constantly fed by the heavy dews which prevail in that region, becomes long, coarse, and ‘sour’.
1867 Blue Bk for Col. 1866 JJ44During..drought farmers take their stock to Fort Fordyce, where there is usually abundance of grass, though of the kind called ‘sour’.
1905 [see sweet sense 1].
2. combinations
sour-field, sour-fields obsolete [calque formed on South African Dutch zuurveld, see zuurveld], sourveld (see below);
sour grass, also with initial capitals, grass lacking in nutrition; also attributive; see also koperdraad;
sourveld, formerly also sour veldt [partial translation of South African Dutch zuurveld], land (usually in areas of relatively high rainfall) on which the dominant vegetation is sour grass; the vegetation on such land; zuurveld sense a; also attributive; cf. sweetveld (see sweet sense 2).
1786 G. Forster tr. of A. Sparrman’s Voy. to Cape of G.H. I. 249What are termed by the colonists Zuure-velden, or Sour-fields, are such as lie somewhat higher and cooler than the shore.
1812 A. Plumptre tr. of H. Lichtenstein’s Trav. in Sn Afr. (1928) I. 63The name of sour-fields is given to such lands as are a mixture of sand and loam, and only produce spontaneously a coarse rushy kind of grass.
1853 F.P. Fleming Kaffraria 99In many parts, what is called the ‘Zureveldt’ or sour-field, preponderated, which the cattle will not touch.
1801 J. Barrow Trav. I. 110That division of the district called the Zuureveldt, or Sour Grass plains.
1809 R. Collins in G.M. Theal Rec. of Cape Col. (1900) VII. 126Beyond the Kranz River, the country opens near the sea, and presents a plain of coppice and sour grasses, some places affording tolerable pasturage for horned cattle.
1852 M.B. Hudson S. Afr. Frontier Life 236About Graham’s Town and Lower Albany is ‘the Zuurveld or Sour Grass Country’.
1861 J.M. Bowker Speeches & Sel. (1864) 102There we lost it, the sour grass being too long and thick to admit of our seeing it further.
1937 Handbk for Farmers (Dept of Agric. & Forestry) 398The soil is sour and here the vegetation tends more to that of the heath, protea and inedible sour grass and rush type.
1968 Farmer’s Weekly 3 Jan. 92 (advt)Farm. 170 Morgen sour grass veld.
1863 J.S. Dobie S. Afr. Jrnl (1945) 76On across the Little Tugela..over rank sour-veldt grass.
1887 J.C. Brown Management of Crown Forests 67There is a vulgar prejudice against sour veldt, which will disappear when its more enduring qualities are better appreciated.
1892 R.H.S. Churchill Men, Mines & Animals 197The whole what is called ‘sour veldt’ (that is, coarse, hard, dry grass), distasteful to the animals, especially to oxen, perfectly unnourishing.
1897 F. Macnab On Veldt & Farm 114I have found a change from sweet veldt to sour veldt for a week, and then back again to the sweet veld, to be very beneficial to cattle.
1910 A.B. Lamont Rural Reader 253Sour found on poor, dry, sandy soils that lack certain minerals — especially lime.
1937 Handbk for Farmers (Dept of Agric. & Forestry) 396The results obtained apply only to sour veld regions.
1947 C.R. Prance Antic Mem. 124Nobody farmed them now; there was no water and only sour veld.
1970 Farmer’s Weekly 16 Dec. 48The natural grazing is usually sour veld of low quality.
1981 J.B. Peires House of Phalo 9Sourveld, which predominated.., provided excellent grazing in summer but lost most of its nutritional value after about four months.
1983 S. Afr. Panorama Apr. (Back cover)The..geometric endemic to the South-western Cape and can only exist in sour veld.
1986 Farmer’s Weekly 13 June 19Reasonable palatability may extend into winter even in sourveld areas.
coarse and lacking in nutritional value, especially during winter.
bearing such vegetation.
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